2008 Nissan 350Z Roadster

I'm happy that a fresh Z-car is on the way (a new one is debuting in November at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show), because this one is feeling pretty old. The car feels heavy and ponderous. The performance is there, but it takes a deft touch to wring it out of the car fluidly. I found myself having a hard time shifting smoothly in our test car, which was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. The car just feels like it is tripping over its own power and performance. It lacks finesse and grace. Some people will like that, I'm sure, but it makes me very weary. I want the next Z-car to be less of a brute and more of a lithe ballet dancer.

As for the roadster aspect of our test car, yeah, it works, although it's not a pretty car when the top is up. But yesterday was a quintessential Michigan summer day, one of those days that you pine for when you're slugging your way through a Michigan winter, and the Nissan 350Z Roadster was the perfect car. To lower the top, you unfasten it at the header, then press a switch on the lower left portion of the dash. The tonneau cover rises to accommodate the folded top and then clamps down firmly over it. The trunk is shallow but reasonably wide; two people who pack carefully should certainly be able to fit a weekend's worth of stuff.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

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